Recently I learned about the Eisenhower Matrix. Based on a quote by President Eisenhower, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent.”, it helps people organize their priorities. Unlike the former President, the matrix recognises four different types of issues:

  • Urgent and important
  • Urgent and not important
  • Important and not urgent
  • Not important and not urgent
In the matrix these are organized as follows:

    In our day-to-day work we tend to focus on urgent matters, the two left quadrants. Thereby ignoring matters we find important and would like to address, but that lack the urgency to make it onto the agenda. The matrix urges you to tackle the top two quadrants first and only then looking at urgent, but not important, matters. It’s a way to focus on what is important in your work (or life) and learn to let go of things that may seem urgent, but are really just unimportant distractions.

    So where does privacy fit in? Usually it’s not difficult to convince people of the importance of privacy. The days of ‘I have nothing to hide’ seem to be truly behind us, thanks to scandals surrounding national surveillance, social media and several gigantic data breaches. People value their privacy and companies know their customers care. Urgency however, is a different matter. Investing in privacy will cost some money, will probably not lead to extra profits and might not make business sense, in the short run..

    In the long run, however, it pays to make privacy a priority. Not just because you don’t want to run the risk of being liable for a data breach. There’s the reputational damage of misusing personal data, the breach trust of customers or employees, and possible regulatory measures (such as fines). But these are just the negative effects, privacy protection can have benefits too. More and more companies are turning privacy into a unique selling point. Let your customers know that their data isn’t part of your business model!

    Then there’s the global market to consider. If you want to reach European customers, you have to apply the GDPR standards. And what about your clients’ customers? Companies that are either based in the EU or have customers in the EU, need to make sure their vendors are GDPR compliant. This has led many companies to rely on European vendors only, even when there is a US vendor which offers better services. By making privacy a priority, you don’t have to miss out on the European market. Other regions and states (California!) are quickly following suit. Staying ahead of the game will pay out in the long run.

    Protecting privacy may not seem urgent, for now. But it makes perfect business sense to focus on what is important to you and your customers!

    Categories: Uncategorised

    Joyce de Jong

    Joyce de Jong is a privacy lawyer from the Netherlands and Director of GDPR Consultancy at Audittrail Group. She specialises in the GDPR (obviously) and advises companies about the differences between US and EU privacy law.